I never heard of Nathan Heller before today. He’s a copy editor at Slate, so I’m guessing I’m not alone. He wrote a piece for Slate called Pie - It's gloppy, it's soggy, it's un-American.
Forget Weinergate. Forget the Palin Express. Forget that everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Actually, remember that last thing. This is the most blasphemous thing I’ve read in a long time. Really. Don’t take your precious time to read it.
It comes down to this: Heller says pie is an inferior product that its hawkers have been trying to push down the throats of the American people by virtue of its long history and the patriotic values it’s supposed to represent.
He describes in detail the disaster of eating pie, of how it explodes on the plate and the crust is a nightmare to cut through AND chew. Everything he says is 100% correct…when it’s applied to BAD pie. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a soggy crust trying to keep an overly liquidy filling under control does NOT a superlative dessert make.
Heller continues his besmirchment of pie by saying that it doesn’t have the illustrious history its supporters claim it has. He says we eat pie at Thanksgiving, because of its “elaborate mythology”. I don’t give two figs about the mythology of pie, although the provenance of different food items can be fascinating. The reason I eat pie at Thanksgiving is because it’s good AND it’s what my mother always served.
Wherever it came from and, whether or not you believe in its traditional values (Mom, Apple Pie and all that), a well-made pie is a glorious combination of perfectly ripe (or perfectly sweetened) fruit enrobed in a crisp, flaky crust.
An excellent pie CAN make the diner believe that, yes, there is an America of which we can be proud.
And, if only for the moment that we have fork in hand, we can also agree that Mom, Grandma and Aunt Elsie (not to mention the occasional Uncle Orville) all hold the key to, if not prosperity and good fortune, at least a darn good dessert that’s worth preserving and passing down.